Is now a good time to buy a house in Arizona?

Homeownership
An Opportunity of a Lifetime?
Five Reasons You Should Consider Buying Now

The housing market tumble has created an enormous opportunity for first-time home buyers, those that have not owned a home in three years or those wishing to move up. Home prices have declined 14% in the last year. Mortgage rates are low.

1. According to the National Association of Realtors the “housing
affordability index” is higher now than at any point since the index was
started in 1970. The affordability index measures the relationship between
home prices, mortgage interest rates and family income. While home prices
may fall further, there is no guarantee that they will, or that mortgage
rates will stay at current low rates.

2. Now, the Federal Government, through the stimulus package, has
sweetened the deal. First-time homebuyers, and those who have not owned a
home in the last three years, may be entitled to a tax credit for purchasing
a home. This credit is up to 10% of the home’s value, not to exceed $8,000.
This is a real tax credit that can be used for tax year 2008 or 2009. For
example, if you purchased your first home for $150,000 in March of 2009, you
would be entitled to the maximum tax credit of $8,000. Let’s say you owed
$1,000 in additional income tax for 2008. Now, because of this tax credit
($8,000)… instead of paying $1,000 to the IRS, they would send you a
refund for $7,000. To qualify, your adjusted gross income must be below
$75,000 for individuals or $150,000 for couples.

3. There is a large inventory to choose from. Currently, there is about
a 12-month supply of homes on the market. This gives you, the buyer, extra
bargaining power. But, as the inventory of homes decreases, so does your
bargaining power.

4. Builders are offering extraordinary deals. Home builders may be even
more aggressive with their negotiations than foreclosed property or
individual homeowners. Another advantage of purchasing from a builder is
you get a warranty on the home and its appliances. Why would builders be
more aggressive? They want to save their credit, their brand name, and
reputation.

5. Mortgage rates are low. These rates affect your monthly payments.
The lower the interest charged on your mortgage, the lower your payments.
Right now the Federal Government is taking extraordinary steps to keep
mortgage rates low. The Federal Reserve is buying up to $500 billion in
loans, and the Treasury Department has just announced a $200 billion
purchase of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac preferred shares. These low rates
will not be with us for long.

Before deciding on a home purchase, meet with your financial advisor and go
over your finances. He or she will be able to tell you how much house you
can afford. Making sure that you do not get over your head is more
important now than ever. Also, it is a good idea to get pre-approved for
your mortgage before you go shopping. With a pre-approved mortgage, you
will be in “the catbird seat” when it comes to negotiations.

What questions potential homebuyers should know:

  • What percent of income should my mortgage payment be?
  • Can I afford to take the jump into homeownership?

This blog was a guest column from Dennis R. Ederer, CPA who works for Money COncepts Financial Planning Center in Tempe AZ. You can reach Dennis at 480-968-4939

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